Friday, October 05, 2012

The Rock That Kansas City Was Built On

Town of Kansas Historical Site To Be A Reality

By Orvis N. Fitts
Past President, Westport Historical Society
John Calvin McCoy, 22 years old and the founder of Westport, had built a two-story log structure on what is now the northeast quadrant of the at Westport Road and Pennsylvania.  He was operating a general store catering to the trade on the western trails which traversed on what is now Westport Road.
Merchandise for his store came up the Missouri River on steamboats which docked at the Wayne City Landing near Independence ... which forced McCoy to make a three-day round-trip in his wagons to get to Independence, load the new merchandise and return to Westport. 
To shorten his trip, McCoy found a rock ledge outcropping on the Missouri River between what is now Delaware and Grand streets.  In the spring of 1834 he persuaded the captain of what was probably the steamboat "John Hancock" to unload the goods at the new site.  This new delivery point was an eight-mile round-trip, which McCoy's' wagons could traverse in one day!  This new landing site on the river became known as Westport Landing.
I was inspired today to try to find John McCoy's "rock ledge outcropping on the Missouri River" that was, in a very real sense, the rock that Kansas City was built on. It became known as Westport Landing and it was roughly where modern day Main Street met the Missouri River.

 I also wanted to find the Independence Upper and Lower landings that preceded Westport Landing.

It's not like I'm Indiana Fucking Jones. I didn't have to cut my way through riverbank bush with a machete fighting off snakes and fresh water crocodiles. I parked my car at Richard Berkley Riverfront Park and walked west on the paved trail for a few blocks where I encountered lunch-hour joggers and Downtown Community Improvement District foot patrols keeping the area safe.

You can also reach the trail head via a pedestrian bridge at 3rd and Main in the River Market that spans the railroad lines and has both stairs and elevators that give you access to the river bank.

Sadly, there is no definitive Kansas City version of Plymouth Rock marked by a plaque that says "This was where the 'John Hancock" first docked and unloaded supplies for young John McCoy."

But it is a very interesting, historic and scenic trail, well maintained and patrolled with well placed security cameras. I would encourage anyone interested in the history of not only Kansas City, Independence and Westport but the westward expansion in general to take a stroll along the river.

I also found the overlook of the Wayne City Upper Landing in what is now Sugar Creek on the LeFarge Concrete site,

Here are some pretty pictures of bridges and such.


Donna said...

I know the word "awesome" is overused, but these pictures are AWESOME!

Xavier Onassis said...

Thank you very much!

sue hanes said...

XO - My husband was stationed at Ft. Leavenworth for a year so we went to KC a few times. It's a great place with good restaurants.

Thanks for the great pictures - as usual.

Mike Ekey said...

I love having this river front park within walking distance. Great place to walk the dog and watch the river.